Hornets win Bock Classic
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
By ROB PATRICK
PINE BLUFF — When Bryant Hornets senior Trent Daniel left the mound in the finals of the Billy Bock Invitational Tournament on Saturday, March 22, his team led the Tuttle, Okla. Tigers, 8-2. He’s struck out 15, walked four and allowed five hits. But two of the walks and one of the hits had come in that seventh inning and the bases were loaded. Even though he was just one out away from a complete game victory, head coach Terry Harper brought on right-hander Preston Adami in relief. Daniel had thrown 124 pitches.
Fortunately for the Hornets, he had another good throw in that strong left arm.
When Tuttle catcher Raif Coker lined a 2-2 pitch from Adami into left field for a two-run single, Daniel charged the ball and fired to his cut-off man, third sacker Tyler Sawyer, as Tuttle’s Kyle Ebert was trying to sneak into third. Sawyer took the perfect throw and tracked down Ebert, tagging him for the final out as the Hornets claimed the tournament championship with an 8-4 victory.
Daniel improved to 3-0 on the season as the Hornets became 9-1 overall. He was coming off a 16-strikeout performance in his previous outing and has fanned 58 in 26 1/3 innings.
He was supported by some lusty hitting from the heart of the Hornets batting order as David Guarno and Cody Walker combined to go 7-of-8 at the plate with five runs scored and five knocked in between them. Guarno smacked his third home run in as many days to highlight a three-run top of the seventh which ended up making the bottom of the inning much less stressful than it might’ve been.
The Hornets claimed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Guarno’s two-out bloop single to center which chased home lead-off man Jake Jackson who had walked and advanced to second on a base on balls to Sawyer by Tuttle starter Rance Pride.
Pride got within a strike of getting out of the inning unscathed. Guarno fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches before fighting off a third for his hit.
Tuttle, a two southwest of Oklahoma City, came into the season ranked No. 1 in its state’s 4A classification, took advantage of a pair of two-out errors to push two runs home. The errors allowed the Tigers to get runners to second and third. Daniel then struck out Pride but the pitch was in the dirt and not only was the batter able to reach first but the lead runner scored to tie the game. Trent Scrivner followed with a shot into the hole at short. Cody Walker flagged it down but had no play as a second run scored.
Ebert walked to load the bases but Daniel got out of the inning by inducing a grounder to second off Coker’s bat. Jackson made the play, throwing to Drew Ransdell at first to end the inning.
That 2-1 lead held until Bryant’s third when Jackson again instigated an uprising by waiting out a walk. He stole second but remained there as Pride retired the next two batters. Walker followed with a clutch RBI single to center to tie the game. And, on a late throw to the plater, Walker advanced to second which turned out to be key when Guarno cracked a double to the gap in left-center putting the Hornets ahead to stay.
Daniel worked around a walk and a two-out double by Ebert in the bottom of the inning.
In the fourth, Tuttle’s Grant Glasser reached base on a third-strike wild pitch with one down. With the hit-and-run on, the next batter Garrett Bayliff lined one to center that Jordan Knight charged in to catch. He threw back to first to double up Glasser with Ransdell making a nice play to catch the ball and stay on the bag as Glasser sprinted toward him.
A two-out uprising in the top of the fifth extended Bryant’s lead. Walker’s base hit got it started. Guarno followed with a single to right and Kaleb Jobe drew one of his three walks in the game to load the bags. A wild pitch allowed Walker to score then Knight hit a slow roller to third for an RBI single to make it 5-2.
Daniel wound up striking out four in the bottom of the fifth. A third-strike pitch on the second of those was in the dirt. Jobe knocked it down and threw to first but the low sun obviously got in Ransdell’s eyes and he couldn’t make a clean catch on the throw as the batter, Corey Hawk, reached. Pride reached on another error moments later and stole second to put runners in scoring position.
But Daniel stepped up and fanned Scrivner and Ebert to strand the runners and preserve the three-run margin.
He struck out three more around a one-out single in the sixth and the Hornets padded the lead in the seventh. Walker singled then, against a pretty steady breeze blowing in, Guarno lined a shot off the scoreboard beyond the left-field fence to make it 7-2.
Jobe followed with another walk, Knight singled courtesy runner Anthony Raby to second then Ransdell got a sacrifice bunt down to advance the runners to second and third with one down.
Sophomore Brady Butler’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly brought home Raby.
For the Tigers in the seventh, Tim Williams slapped a double to deep right and Hawk walked. Daniel fanned the next two and the count ran to 3-2 on Ebert before he drew a walk to load the sacks, bringing up Coker and bringing in Adami to set up the game-ending play.
The Hornets took the rest of the week off for spring break. They were due to return to action at home against Benton on March 31, before returning to 7A-Central Conference play at North Little Rock on Tuesday, April 1, and at home against Little Rock Central on Thursday, April 3.